Friday, June 4, 2021

 Sound Advice, Cont'd

If you found yourself hot bunked on a 41-foot barge that was tethered to a corrugated iron pier in the Village of Clyde, New York, roughly equidistant between Rochester and Syracuse on the Erie Canal, the birds would awaken about 20 minutes later than in Boston, by the clock that is, which is to say letting the first rays of the sun be their alarm.

Even if the barge were held fast by bow and stern lines and a spring line, all bound to cleats "by the book," the boat would oscillate to and fro and in the yaw axis, in the wind, there being no current in the great canal except on the rare occasions when Lake Erie is opened to raise its level, west to east.  At random intervals, the stern would oscillate into an indentation in the pier with a loud bang and the boat would abruptly halt.

About 200 feet to the north, the main line of the CSX, and of Amtrak Boston to Chicago, the "Lakeshore Limited," would be active on the opposing bank day and night.  At midnight, or at 4AM, before even the soft whistle in the distance, a low rumble would be heard which, over about ten seconds, would build to a great crescendo.  The now very loud whistle would fall in pitch as Doppler predicted, and more than 100 freight cars would rattle by at speed or, in the case of Amtrak, a pitiful few wagons built in the 1970s or 80s, the club car conductor perhaps just then stocking sugared pecans and microwavable sandwiches for the day's run ending in the capital of the Midwest, in the great city that used to be the iconic heart of America.

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